The Embedded Title Block!

A PLM Solution!

This article was previously call the "The Ultimate Part Mark", but as I was explaining this concept on one of my discussions on Linkedin and one of the fellows said this was basically an embedded title block. That expressed my idea much better. So here is The Embedded Title Block!

This information was included in Redefining 2D/3D article. But I thought it would be a great stand alone article.

Today the industry is attempting to use complex PLM and PDM solutions to handle our "Document" management problem. They are trying to replace one simple document, "The Drawing", as the only authority. The drawing carried all the information necessary to create the part. You sent a print to the suppliers, illustrators, purchasing, invoicing, virtually ever department in the company easily used these documents.

The Death of the Drawing!

Enter the SOLID MODEL. Yes we all know we can take this model and load it into a CNC program like ZW3D CNC and create a set of instructions to drive a mill to create the part. This started those in power thinking, "We really don't need drawings to get this part made." It was a bit short sighted but a good idea. But unfortunately they did not think it through. Soon they realized that they had to inspect the part. Enter PMI (Part Model Definition) which dimensions the mating features including GD&T and other annotation in a 3D space. It really is a mess to follow. Now of course this is a special format coming out of the originating program and requires the original software, for this article we will use Catia, or a special software package. Take a look at this solution in Redefining 2D/3D.


This has become a horror show keep track of the parts. There is only a file number. Have you ever seen a VAULT of parts, just a list of part numbers no information, hoping the document management system is being kept up to date. Of course there is very little information in the file name. I suppose somewhat of a part number and revision and that is about it. No information on what changed. You would have to have a drawing for that, but we have no drawing and the PMI doesn't seem to be the correct format to record this. So what we have is undocumented parts.

Enter 3rd party Validation software. Oh Oh, the "Band-Aids" started showing up. Yes now a supplier has to invest in 3rd party software to assure that the model is correct. At approximately $5,000.00 you can compare apples to apples and get a report that the apples are apples. Now there is another less expensive bit of software that just compares the parts and shows you the differences. It is like getting two drawings one original and one updated. Then sending it to a specialty group that finds the differences. Large companies spend millions on CAD software and now make their suppliers purchase software to find the revisions in the parts. If they don't have the revisions documented they have to treat the parts as a new job and reprogram them which is very time consuming and increases the price of the part.

PLM has become the most incredibly complex data management system. You have to be a trained PLM engineer to even understand it. Yes, there are now PLM specialist required in a company to implement this system. Sadly it is tied to the CAD software so there will never be a standard. Or will there?

The Worst to Best CAD System and Why!

We need a standard.

We have made a mess of PDM (Product Data Management) and PLM (Part Lifecycle Management). The drawing was the only source for part information and was a successful standard for hundreds of years. We have lost that but we can get it back? And is there a vested interest to stay with the current mess.

So how do we do this without specialty software?

A simpler Solution - The Ultimate Part Mark!

You would never release a part without a part mark. You stamp the part number, engrave it, or bag and tag it if is too small or not conducive to stamping. But we allow our digital parts to go out without any information or bundled with several confusing pieces of data. Here is how we can now close the door on all miscommunication.

Most CAD package can create solid text and emboss or imprint the part name, number, revision, website and phone or contact information in a part. This virtually solves the problem. This really relates to large companies that utilize heavy use of outside suppliers, but could easily be a standard for all parts. We want to have only one part with no extraneous data so all CAD systems can read it as one part.

The Secret of Part Numbers

Update: Onshape offers the below concept today.
Onshape is by far the most exciting developments that has been introduced to the CAD industry. Today you can have a standard deliverable with the latest information directly accessible to other engineering personnel, purchasing, marketing, document control, manufacturing, tech pubs, etc. You could have non-engineering personnel maintaining this information, let engineers do their work.

Onshape! A View from the Clouds

Onshape! The Party is over!

I envision a Web page for each part or assembly. This would be done by the document control group. Utilizing the release package or bundle from engineering. This is nothing more that modifying a template.

OnShape: The Ultimate Document Control System

This webpage would only source for the part or assembly.

What the web page would include:

  • All of the specifications

  • The latest changes included in the current revision.

  • Immediate notification of changes.

  • The history of the prior revisions.

  • Checking out the latest solid model in a variety of formats.
    You can go to look at
    3D Content Central for a reference of importing with different formats.

  • Recording of who downloads parts (Password Permission of course)

  • Automatic notification of any change in status of the part.

Would we include a drawing? Of course, now that we have the web page as the only authority. We can easily have a PDF available for download for inspection purposes or clarity. Probably only defining the mating features.

Who would use this web page.

  • Purchasing

  • Manufacturing

  • Planning

  • Marketing

  • Graphic Arts

  • Pub Docs

  • Anyone that would require access to engineering data.

This is just too simple.

The Embedded Title Block Defined!

Take a look at this concept. INOVATE is the tool I am using here but I am sure all of the major programs can do this. The part is then be put up on the internet. I comes with enough pertinent information for anyone to make sure they have the latest version. Of course this is mostly for those companies that have many outside suppliers. The data could include the following and embossed or engraved in the part.

Part Name:
Part Number:

Since I started my engineering career at Boeing in 1965. I know a bit about how the drawings were done and distributed. In the beginning we worked with blue prints. Yes actually they were white on blue. We had blue print counters throughout the plant. Then I left the industry and came back in 1977, now there were microfiche, we could now get all of our drawings on a card and print the parts lists. I could take hours and hours to research to fine the correct configuration.

Website: I am sure now there is a webpage for each part and assembly. Where you can see the latest revisions and status of the part. You can download the part or assembly if you have permission. Outside suppliers can log-on to get the necessary data and be on a special list to be notified in case the part changes. Now again this is for large companies that use outside suppliers.

Here are a few examples of having a part mark on the part itself. You would put in on a easily modified surface. INOVATE makes this easy. You just drag the base text from the catalog, edit it, size it with handles and subtract or add. You can how the text can be sized below.




Most CAD systems can modify the part to eliminate the part mark to have a clean machineable part. This is where a history based system has an edge on direct editing. You can just suppress the covering extrusion. With direct editing only products you have to have two parts. Luckily INOVATE has both History/Feature based and direct editing functionality integrated in the program.


For assemblies you can have large separate part with the same information.

The CAD product I use is IRONCAD/INOVATE. All of the text is is generated with IRONCAD on an Inventor Part. Are you tired of the sketch, sketch, constrain, constrain, painful way of CAD design? Take a look at the most sophisticated CAD solution available. The basis of engineering is creating parts and IRONCAD/INOVATE can just do it easier and faster. CAD does not have to be complicated. Give IRONCAD/INOVATE a try go to this link to download a 30 day fully functional evaluation, including all the translators.

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To download the very complete “Getting Started Guide”

It is easy to load and get up to speed. It includes all the translators so you can get started seeing the advantages of implementing the power of INOVATE or IRONCAD. You can directly access your existing engineering data. Take some time to get the other departments involved. This truly is the solution to make each person in the company access to all the engineering data and in the know. Warning: Make sure you start with the drag and drop design. We have found a Pro/e clone user will automatically try to use the sketching feature.

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If you are interested in adding professional hybrid modeling capabilities or looking for a new solution to increase your productivity, take some time to download a fully functional 30 day evaluation and play with these packages. Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions or would like an on-line presentation.

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